Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: The Social Insurance State, Economic Problems of the North Atlantic, Redistribution, and the Lesser Depression: Monday Focus: March 10, 2014: Back in the 1970s and 1980s I was told over and over again–by pundits, right-of-center politicians, political scientists, and not a few economists–that the source of the North Atlantic’s economic problems play in its overly-democratic politics.
The argument went more-or-less like this:
Some voters want goodies; other voters want low taxes; politician satisfy them by expanding programs and cutting taxes, producing debt. The debt must either be amortized through high taxes that discourage investment and entrepreneurship or through printing money which produces inflation and also deranges the price system and slows growth.
Thus, I was told over and over again, the economic problems of the north Atlantic in the 1970s and 1980s–the productivity growth slowdown in the inflation of the 1970s–were the result of an overly-large welfare state produced by an overly-democratic government. Both of these, the argument went, needed to be fixed.
This never seemed to me to make quantitative sense… READ MORE
Thomas Frank: Paul Krugman won’t save us: “When President Obama declared in December that gross inequality is the ‘defining challenge of our time’, he was right, and resoundingly so…. However, he quickly backed away… at the urging of pollsters and various Democratic grandees. I can understand the Democrats’ fears… a throwback to an incomprehensible time…. Unfortunately, they really have no choice. Watching… the bankers steered us into disaster in 2008 and then… harvested the fruits of our labored recovery–these spectacles have forced the nation to rediscover social class…
My thought here is to ask the Tonto question: “Who is this ‘us’, kemosabe?” The nation–with the exception of the top 1%, who understand social class very well–has not rediscovered social class. If the nation had rediscovered social class, “inequality” would poll better and “upward mobility” would poll worse–would be seen as the mess of overdone pottage that it is. I think we would have a healthier politics if the 99% had rediscovered social class. But pretending it has does not make it so. There is a big task of education and analysis ahead. And trashing Paul Krugman is a rather odd exercise to engage in, given that Paul Krugman has been raising the hue-and-cry about the disastrous consequences of rising inequality for America since Thomas Frank was in diapers. READ MORE
Last night pieces by the thoughtful and knowledgeable Uwe Reinhardt, the smart and hard-working Marty Lederman, and that brilliant man of unsound methods Richard Epstein collided on my computer screen, and then held an all-night insomniac hoedown.
This is the result:
Jon Perr: Georgia Republicans are Killing Hospitals--and People: "By now, millions of Americans--most of them in red states-- are growing familiar with the 'coverage gap'.
Thanks to their rejection of the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid in states they control, GOP leaders are leaving at least five million people in an insurance "dead zone," earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to obtain federal subsidies to purchase coverage... with as many as 17,000 people forecast to needlessly die each year for lack of health insurance. But GOP obstruction won't just kill people in places like Texas, Mississippi and many more. As the case of Georgia shows--where over 600,000 residents will fall into the coverage gap and as many as 1,175 will die this year--Republican policy is killing hospitals, too.... A fourth rural hospital in Georgia is shutting its doors due to a lack of patients who can pay for their medical expenses:
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: One of the many, many interesting things in the Federal Reserve's 2008 transcripts is the staff briefing materials for the mid-December FOMC meeting, which include:
Daniel Kuehn: Facts & other stubborn things: Krugman back in 2009 on the downturn: "Recently Bob [Murphy] claimed that Krugman is 'rewriting' his stimulus history....
Now DeLong actually said that he trusted the CEA forecast at the time (more on that a little later), but Krugman didn't. His post stuck pretty closely simply to what we think about the properties of different time series with respect to unit roots. It's not even like he left his view about the possibility of extended crisis unstated - he said that we can expect output to grow "if and when" slack capacity was used again. "When", sure - but "if and when"!?!?
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: I Am Sorry. What Was Tim Geithner Looking at in January 2008?: Saturday Focus: February 22, 2014: "Steven Perlberg:
Tim Geithner January 2008 FOMC Minutes: “The World Is Still Looking Pretty Good”: “In January 2008–right as the U.S. economy entered a recession–the former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman (and later Treasury Secretary) was still very optimistic….
You know, we have the implausible kind of Goldilocks view of the world, which is it’s going to be a little slower, taking some of the edge off inflation risk, without being so slow that it’s going to amplify downside risks to growth in the United States. That may be too optimistic, but the world still is looking pretty good. Central banks in a lot of places are starting to soften their link to the dollar so that they can get more freedom to direct monetary policy to respond to inflation pressure. That’s a good thing. U.S. external imbalances are adjusting at a pace well ahead of expectations. That’s all good, I think. As many people pointed out, the fact that we don’t have a lot of imbalances outside of housing coming into this slowdown is helpful. There’s a little sign of incipient optimism on the productivity outlook or maybe a little less pessimism that we’re in a much slower structural productivity growth outlook than before. The market is building an expectation for housing prices that is very, very steep. That could be a source of darkness or strength, but some people are starting to call the bottom ahead, and that’s the first time. It has been a long time since we’ve seen any sense that maybe the turn is ahead. It seems unlikely, but maybe they’re right. In the financial markets, I think it is true that there is some sign that the process of repair is starting. Having said that, though, I think it is quite dark still out there…. Like everyone else, we have revised down our growth forecast. We expect very little growth, if any, in the first half of the year before policy starts to bring growth back up to potential....
What was he looking at in January 2008 to say that? READ MORE
Igor Volsky: This New Study Proves That Background Checks Save Lives: "Missouri’s decision to repeal its law requiring all handgun purchasers to obtain a 'permit-to-purchase' (PTP) verifying they passed a background check led to a 16 percent increase in the state murder rate, a new study from Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has found....
State legislators eliminated the permit requirement in June of 2007, as part of a larger firearms bill granting criminal and civil immunity to homeowners who use deadly force against intruders.... Removing the licensing requirement contributed to an “additional 55 to 63 murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.” The increases occurred in the first full year after the repeal, during which the state saw “large increases in the number of guns diverted to criminals and in guns purchased in Missouri that were subsequently recovered by police in border states that retained their PTP laws.” The analysts controlled “for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime,” a press release for the study says....
Alicublog: New Realities: "Remember when conservatives considered Costco as American as cheeseburgers and credit default swaps?...
The basic idea was [that] large stores selling large lots at large discounts... excited the Common Man and that was what conservatism was all about. (Rick Santorum tried to split the difference in his last Witchfinder General campaign by calling his chosen people "Sam's Club and Costco folks.")... NROniks like Jennifer Graham sneered at a feminist who didn't want to have kids and wind up shopping at Costco.... Larry Kudlow protested John Kerry's NAFTA stance as "trade protectionism" that "undermines the living standards of the near 135 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy." This schtick persisted into the early Obama era... added Costco to the honor roll of big companies "in Obama’s crosshairs" for high socialist taxation.... Mitt and Ann Romney went shopping at Costco and gushed about all the stuff they'd bought and would keep in a shed till the election was over and they could quietly get rid of it.
But this week, National Review's Alec Torres headlines,
Costco: The Arugula of Chain Stores
Arugula--the most dreaded of conservative curse-words!
Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Afternoon Must-Read: CBO: Frequently Asked Questions About CBO’s Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act:
Q: Will 2.5 Million People Lose Their Jobs in 2024 Because of the ACA?
We would not describe our estimates in that way. We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.”…
Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people “losing” their jobs.
Prairie Weather: Can Mitch McConnell survive so many hits?:
They're coming at him from all sides....
Republicans are buoyant they can capture the Senate this year – but will Mitch McConnell still be there as majority leader?... The Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for several local TV stations and newspapers, showed McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent.... Maybe most troubling for the 29-year incumbent are his persistently low approval ratings — 60 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing in office — which make him as unpopular as Obama in the Bluegrass State. Fifty percent of Kentuckians also view McConnell unfavorably.... TheHill
Time reports that he's still a favorite, though favorite to whom remains a mystery. The logic here seems overly sunny, maybe Koched up:
A new poll that shows Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell trailing his Democratic opponent.... McConnell’s spokeswoman told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the campaign was “very comfortable about where this race stands...”
McConnell took over from Bill Frist as head of the Republican Senate caucus at the start of 2007--and his strategy from the get-go was: total gridlock. The idea was that if government failed to function, voters would get angry at Democrats--the party of a working government--the Republicans would retake the Senate, and then he could do some legislatin'. Didn't work. I don't understand why his Republican colleagues haven't thrown him out of the Minority Leader's office already. And I don't understand why he doesn't recognize that, from the viewpoint of the voters of Kentucky, he is Washington--a dysfunctional Washington is a dysfunctional McConnell...
Chris Cilizza is one of the best reporters the Washington Post has now that the Wonkblog crew is heading off to Vox Media. Chris Cilizza also sees nothing odd or ironic in writing:
Chris Cilizza: Why the CBO report is (still) bad news for Democrats: My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument, but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality…
Note the assumptions here:
And at this point, all you can do is quote extensively from Plato’s Republic, the passage on the Allegory of the Cave, and urge Jeff Bezos to immediately change the culture of the Washington Post completely so that it can at least try to step up its game...
Political documentaries lionize candidates: It worked for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Barack Obama | Memo explains why the U.S. can kill its own citizens without trial | Koch seizes on “Obamacare Kills Jobs” message | The CBOghazi of Chris Cilizza and Many Others: Journalists have no idea "what will matter" in an election |
The University of Michigan's Chris House appears to suffer from the searching-for-false-balance disease.
It's not a big deal.
But it is a neat, clean, and comprehensible example of the damage done by the opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ disease that Chris House and many others have: the net effect is to excuse the bad faith, ideological partisanship, and failure to do their homework on the part of those working to degrade the quality of our public sphere--and to aid in the drip-drip-drip eroding-away at the influence of those working hard to improve it. Not good. Not good...
Chris House: The Wisdom of Laureates: "Ed Prescott... [has the] most people talking...
is quoted as saying:
It is an established scientific fact that monetary policy has had virtually no effect on output and employment in the U.S. since the formation of the Fed....
Prescott is wrong. It is NOT an established fact the monetary policy has no effect on economic activity. The balance of the evidence suggests the opposite. Monetary policy seems to have clear measurable effects on the economy....
Should we grant Ed Prescott, or Paul Krugman, or Robert Lucas, or Peter Diamond much more credence than other smart observers?... Nobel Prize winners have typically devoted their entire careers to a rather narrow study of a particular area.... They are also often radical thinkers.... Academics are rewarded... for having path-breaking ideas.... An academic who has one or two... might well be viewed as... worthy of a Nobel, even if most of their ideas are crazy.... The price we pay for having unusual insights might be that we often have unorthodox approaches.... Prescott didn’t win the Nobel Prize for having a balanced assessment.... This isn’t limited to Prescott. Even Paul Krugman has been known to say some rather nutty things at times.
The biggest bit that is idiocy is the claim that Nobel Prize winners in general are prone to say "rather nutty things" because saying such is closely linked to what makes them Nobel Prize-caliber. Prescott says nutty things--very nutty things, hugely nutty things, completely nutty things--about what is supposed to be the core area of his expert knowledge on a regular basis. But Krugman? Diamond? Lucas might come within two orders of magnitude of Prescott, but not one (or, if every one, only very rarely). And I see whatever wrong things Krugman and Diamond says as at least three orders of magnitude less than Prescott on the nuttiness scale.
So I (and others) asked Chris House where his ideas were coming from: what evidence made him generalize from Prescott; to the quartet of Prescott, Lucas, Krugman, and Diamond; and then to the quartet of Nobel Prize winners in general?
The conversation did not go terribly well. Samples:
Stephen Bainbridge: The media is ignoring the moral equivalence between Obamajams and Christie's bridge:
So at worst NJ Governor Chris Christie created some traffic jams as political payback.... Democrats... and their allies in the liberal mainstream media [are] all worked up.... But where were the latter when Obama knowingly repeatedly flew into Los Angeles and created massive Obamajams so that he could rake in political payoffs by the billions from his liberal Hollywood groupies.... I've had personal experience of Obama's incredibly deleterious effect on our traffic. To me, the difference between jams for payback and jams for payola is trivial. But because he's a Democrat, nobody in the media cares about the latter.
Is there any way to read Bainbridge other than that he is really, really angry that (a) a Black man (b) is President and (c) dares to visit Los Angeles (d) with secret service protection in order to (e) maintain his political coalition and (f) raise money for electoral campaigns?
Which of these six do you suppose makes Bainbridge angriest?
Yes, it's funny. But the normalization of the crazy is perhaps the most worrisome thing.
The White House :: Office of the Press Secretary: Administration Kicks Off "Recovery Summer" with Groundbreakings and Events Across the Country:
For Immediate Release June 17, 2010
Administration Kicks Off "Recovery Summer" with Groundbreakings and Events Across the Country
President Obama, Vice President Biden and Other Administration Officials to Highlight Surge in Recovery Act Infrastructure Projects This Summer
WASHINGTON, DC – The Administration today kicks off “Recovery Summer,” a six-week-long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs they’ll create well into the fall and through the end of the year. The Recovery Act has already funded tens of thousands of projects and put about 2.5 million Americans to work, but summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with tens of thousands of projects underway across the country that will help to create jobs for American workers and economic growth for businesses, large and small....
So I was reading:
Jagadeesh Gokhale, Ph.D., and Angela C. Erickson: The Effect of Federal Health Care ‘Reform’ on Kansas General Fund Medicaid Expenditures
and I ran across this graph:
and the paper's accompanying conclusion:
By 2023, 21 percent of the Kansas population is projected to be on Medicaid under the PPACA—up from 13 percent currently. Kansas Medicaid expenditures are projected to grow by an additional $4.7 billion (29 percent) beyond the increase projected without PPACA.... With ongoing court and congressional challenges, the final chapter of the PPACA law and state Medicaid spending has yet to be written. However, since a federal court judgment has declared PPACA unconstitutional, Kansas lawmakers should vigorously oppose the implementation of PPACA’s health exchanges and other administrative and operational infrastructure...
And then there is, by Gokhale alone, a 2013 update on the Cato Institute's website:
and the paper's updated conclusion:
Kansas’ lawmakers face a crucial decision about whether to expand Medicaid according to the dictates of the ACA. That decision would expand the program and possibly improve health outcomes for low income households. However, that benefit must be weighted against the lost opportunities to spend on other budget programs that are also valuable.... The incremental 10-year cost to the Kansas general fund from expanding Medicaid of $625 million would arise “at the margin”.... It may be better to spend the $625 million on other Kansas budget items...
But there is one number that I cannot find on either graph or in either version of the policy brief:
That $8 billion is the amount of federal dollars the U.S. government will commit to match 100% of extra costs for the first three years and 90% for the next seven if Kansas expands the Medicaid program as ObamaCare envisions. And that is money that will not flow to Kansas if Medicaid is not expanded by Kansas.
The argument that Kansas has better things to spend its $625 million on over the next decade than on expanding Medicaid rings a little hollow when you reflect that cutting $625 million over the next decade from ACA-projected levels reduces what Kansas can buy by not $625 million but rather $8.625 billion. Kansas would have to get 14 times as much state welfare out of a dollar spent elsewhere than out of a dollar spent on its Medicaid program for that argument to apply.
But, I suppose the honchos of the Cato Institute and of the Kansas Policy Institute think, if you don't mention and certainly don't stress the $8 billion number, maybe Kansas's Republican state legislators won't understand what they are doing in rejecting Medicaid expansion.
Here's the context of all mentions of this $8 billion over the next decade--all mentions of the word "match" in the 2013 version of the policy brief:
That's it. No $8 billion number anywhere I can find.
I could go on. I could point out that Gokhale's claims that sustaining the high match rate that produces the $8 billion number is "infeasible" are grossly overstated--and that we will see whether they are true or not in two years, when we will see whether Gokhale's claim that the "100 percent match rates specified for the first three years of the ACA's implementation" are "simply not feasible". That applies to his (12), (10), (7), (6), (3), (2), and (1). I could point out that his claim that federal Medicaid spending would not boost the Kansas economy rests on a bizarre and empty assertion that in the health care sector and the health care sector alone supply curves do not slope upward. That applies to his (11), (10), and (4). I could point out that his claim that federal lawmakers recognize that "such generous matching of new state Medicaid spending on account of Medicaid expansion is, in reality, infeasible" is simply a lie--a misrepresentation of the meaning of proposals and counterproposals in failed 2011 Supercommittee negotiations. That takes care of his (12), (10), and (6).
Now the federal government does have the power to break its deals with states: no congress can fully bind any future congress. But only in Cato Institute-land does the fact that circumstances may change and the optimal level of Medicaid funding for a state may fall in the future carry the implication that the optimal level of state Medicaid funding for a state is low now.
But the thing that strikes me the most is how anxious both Cato and the KPI appear to be to direct attention away from the numbers: that by failing to commit $625 million, Kansas is losing $8.625 billion.
It's as if they fear that their verbal case would simply dry up and blow away if they were to even whisper the terms of the deal being offered...
Jonathan Chait: WSJ: Obama Isn’t Hitler But He’s Pretty Hitler-y: "The Journal’s editorial underscores that the widespread mockery of Perkins, far from piling on a bewildered plutocrat, actually understates the broader problem.
Perkins’s letter provided a peek into the fantasy world of the right-wing one percent, in which fantasies of an incipient Hitler-esque terror are just slightly beyond the norm. The Journal editorial defines persecution of the one percent as the existence of public disagreement. Liberals are mocking Perkins, therefore Perkins is basically right. For Perkins to be wrong — for the rich to enjoy the level of deference the Journal deems appropriate — a billionaire could compare his plight to the victims of the Holocaust and nobody would make fun of him at all."
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
David Lieb: Ex-Missouri GOP Senator Kit Bond Now Lobbying For Medicaid Expansion: "As a Republican senator, Kit Bond voted against... [Obamacare.] Now... Bond is pushing Republican legislators in his home state of Missouri to embrace a key provision of the law by expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Bond said Friday that... "I'm getting involved in Medicaid reform now because if our State sits on the sidelines, I'm concerned hospitals in rural and inner city Missouri won't survive."... The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry declined to say how much it is paying Bond's consulting firm.... Bond already has met with Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon about the potential to expand Medicaid eligibility. "He understands the issues very well, and we're trying to capitalize on his stature, his relationships that he has and his reputation as a one of the best statesmen that this state will ever have," Mehan said.
Fifty years from now which will play worse in historical memory: the conservative southern Democrats' massive resistance to try to civil rights in the 1950s and the 1960s or the conservative Republicans' massive resistance to their poorer fellow-citizens getting health insurance in the 2010s?
I cannot tell. I do, however, think that history will judge the second as stupider: practically everyone has somebody uninsured or at risk of rapidly becoming uninsured in their extended family, and throwing federal Medicaid and exchange subsidy dollars down the toilet does run a measurable risk--10%? 20%? 50%?--of send the red state economies as a group back into recession over the next two years.
But things aren't all going their way. Sy Mukherjee reports:
We're now at the point in "Obama's Katrina" when the number of uninsured people in West Virginia has been reduced by a third.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) January 21, 2014
Are you a doctor? A specialist, perhaps? A surgeon? If you are, there's a seminar for you, taking place on January 31st in Kentucky. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is sponsoring a seminar in how you and your colleagues can 'Keep Obamacare out of your office'....
You can learn all about how the AAPS is fighting to stop maintenance requirements on specialty certifications, delivered by none other than Andrew Schlafly. The DC Update will be delivered by Charlie Sauer, a self-proclaimed economist and former staffer for Jeb Bush and Chuck Grassley... Tea Party challenger in KY-3, Dr. Michael MacFarlane, and Dr. Alieta Eck from NJ-12. More conference highlights will be delivered by Ayn Rand acolytes Josh Umbehr, MD, who runs Atlas MD Family Practice, and Mark Schiller, MD, who runs the Mind Therapy Clinic in the San Francisco area...
John E.: A View of Obamacare:
Way back in the '80´s, during a downturn in the Oil Patch, a Wall Street Journal reporter visited several highly-skilled Texans who suddenly found themselves without work. One, after describing the hardships of raising a family without income, confessed to finally having to accept unemployment insurance. Whereupon he burst into tears, protesting that he was no socialist, and, in so many words, vowing to make the liberals who had so humiliated him with such an indignity, pay, once he was on his feet again, and able to defend himself. That was what made me finally realize some of what we're up against.
Buce and Juan Cole:
Buce: Underbelly: Slow Boring of Hard Boards: Gates, Shultz, Acheson And the Art of the Political Memoir: "I'm barreling through Robert Gates' much-hyped memoir of his tour as secretary of defense under two Presidents and they are right, it is a delight--one of the very best memoirs of actual governing that I've ever read (although maybe I need to read more such).
It is also, be it said, not remotely that farrago of political gamesmanship that the prince of courtiers, Bob Woodward, described in his first-out-of-the-box Washington Post review a couple of weeks back--why anybody still takes that guy seriously is beyond me.
Belle Waring: David Brooks Says:
Anderson, I’m sorry to hear you’re getting divorced. That’s shitty all around even if the eventual outcome is happier people 2 years down the road. Best luck.
Bloix, I do think you’re allowing your (perfectly natural) feeling that you wouldn’t want people talking smack about you behind your back if you happened to get divorced for reasons they could never understand color your views. See, none of that means we shouldn’t be talking smack about David Brooks. David Brooks has repeatedly, with po-faced seriousness, and to the actual detriment of America’s well-being (if he lulled anybody to sleep when they had their hand on the regulatory tiller somewhere, and I do think he did) talked smack about every other damn person getting divorced in America who made less than $200,000 a year. And quite without hedging.
As I continue to try to figure out where the extraordinary animus against ObamaCare comes from not at the level of office-holder posturing but at the level of real ideology, last night pieces by the thoughtful and knowledgeable Uwe Reinhardt, the smart and hard-working Marty Lederman, and that brilliant man of unsound methods Richard Epstein collided on my computer screen, and then held an all-night insomniac hoedown.
This is the result: Washington Center for Equitable Growth | ObamaCare as Dire Infringement of Individual Liberty and in a “Death Spiral”, and LADYPARTS: (Trying to Be) the Honest Broker for the Week of January 19, 2014
Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 13:04:37 PM CST, via Twitter, from Governor Jay Nixon (D):
Tomorrow, billions of dollars will begin to flow to states to improve & reform health care, but Missouri won't be one of them. #momedicaid 12:50 PM - 31 Dec 13
Wait until Missourians realize they're paying for those other states to do so.
Last night pieces by the thoughtful and knowledgeable Uwe Reinhardt, the smart and hard-working Marty Lederman, and that brilliant man of unsound methods Richard Epstein collided on my computer screen, and then held an all-night insomniac hoedown.
This is the result:
Outsourced to: Doktor Zoom: Genius Missouri Bill Will Kill Obamacare By Putting Insurance Companies Out Of Business: "OK, so shutting down the government didn’t work, and the House repealing it umpty-eleven times didn’t work, and the website does work, but maybe it’s not too late for states to save their citizens from the horror of having health insurance. They could maybe try the genius plan introduced in the Missouri Senate by state Sen. John Lamping:
The bill would suspend insurance companies’ state licenses if they accepted subsidies offered by the federal government to help pay health insurance premiums for low- and middle-income Missourians....
Lamping figures that the subsidies are illegal and will totally be declared unconstitutional.... So if you preemptively act as if they are illegal, and punish insurance companies that accept them, somehow that will make the employer mandate go away, hooray!
John Howard Brown: Comment on "What Market Failures Underlie Our Fears of 'Secular Stagnation'?":
Although this is argued with your usual eloquence, there is one short-coming that I see. The problem is not a market failure per se. Instead, the problem is one of political economy. The experience of the last thirty years has been increasing financialization of the the United States economy. The removal of regulatory constraint has permitted the financial industry to extract increasing amounts of rent from the real economy. This is one potential source of secular stagnation and is covered above. However, I don't believe that it is the most important source.
Instead, the accumulating rents are deforming the political process. Both parties are largely dependent on the finance industries for their funding. This is manifest both in the ridiculously weak new regulation following the 2008 crisis and in secular stagnation. As Krugman pointed out on his blog last week, along stronger demand would be desirable, weak demand strips workers of bargaining power. Thus it is not in the interests of the plutocrats to see a stronger economy. Income redistribution is the central plank of any attempt to avoid secular stagnation and the demise of democratic self-government.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”... White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view.... In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap...
I very much hope that this was just a one-year blip--that the 2013 numbers will look much more like the 2011 ones...
The suicide rate in Kansas rose by a staggering 30 percent between 2011 and 2012... many believe that a combination of cuts to mental health funding and the socioeconomic stresses brought on by the global recession are to blame.... A recent, first-of-its-kind study measuring the impact of the recession on global mental health found that suicide rates increased significantly in countries whose unemployment rates also rose... a 37 percent higher unemployment rate was linked to a 3.3 percent increase in men’s global suicide rate. In America, the recession exacerbated a suicide rate that had already been rising for over a decade. Unfortunately, that trend corresponded with massive cuts to mental health care funding as cash-strapped states tried to balance their budgets.... Another round of cuts imposed by sequestration has forced the federal government to pull back funding for substance abuse and mental health programs. That hits local communities hard — for instance, one community health center in Kansas lost over half of its funding thanks to a combination of state budget cuts and sequestration. “Treatment dollars have gone down and more and more people are coming to us, a growing number without any other payment for services,” said Marilyn Cook, executive director of the Sedwick County community health center, in an interview with the Wichita Eagle. “[W]ithout adequate funding, it’s difficult for us to get to everybody who needs care and help.”
Yet another target population that could really benefit from ObamaCare. And yet another population whose political masters are doing everything they can to keep people from having access to it...
Outsourced to Jason Sattler: Bob Woodward Attacks President Obama For Being Right: "Here’s a president who made all the right calls, even though his decisions were often 'opposed by his political advisors' or were 'unpopular with his fellow Democrats'... responsible for 'one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House'.
The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward read about a president who did these things and decided that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir of serving in both the Bush and Obama adminstrations, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, is a “harsh critique of Obama’s leadership.” Woodward... focuses on the rift with the president over the Afghanistan War. But it’s clear that the former secretary ultimately recognized that there was little hope of a successful outcome in the conflict that began in the aftermath of 9/11 — but not because of any decision President Obama made.
As best as I can figure out, states that go all-in in their opposition to ObamaCare will lose 3% of their state-level GDP relative to baseline from Medicaid dollars not spent and exchange subsidies not claimed in the short run, and 6% in the long run as those who make the things medical professionals buy move to where the money is...
*Prairie Weather: * Republican efforts to destroy Obamacare may come back haunt them:
I'm beginning to wonder whether the future health of American politics may turn out to owe something to Obamacare. Texas is a ridiculously red state... that has been churning out an embarrassing group of knuckledraggers who find their way to... Congress.... The effort to destroy Obamacare is as alive in Texas these days as in Washington.... Rick Perry's idea of reggle-atin' includes making the navigators pay a hefty fee for their role assisting in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act... "40 hours of training... liability insurance... fees for fingerprints, tests and classes".... To become a navigator in Texas, you'll need to ante up $800.
Matthew Yglesias watched the train-wreck in real time:
Matthew Yglesias: That's How Budgeting Works | ThinkProgress: "One of the most memorable parts of the State of the Union was when the President had to remind certain jeering members of congress that taking budgetary steps this fiscal year that don’t take effect until next fiscal year is 'how budgeting works'. It looks to me like Ed Lazaer could use a tutorial in this point:
Since 2008, the ratio of federal spending-to-GDP has risen by about 14%. From 2008 to 2009 we saw the greatest annual increase in spending in the last 30 years. In the name of stimulating job growth, the share of federal spending is now 24% of the economy, up from 21% in the last year of the Bush administration.
As Peter Orszag observes, the Obama administration wasn’t in power when most of the relevant decisions were made:
On January 7, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Economic and Budget Outlook for Fiscal Years 2009-2019. In that document, CBO projected that government spending would rise from 20.9 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2008 to 24.9 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2009. (Just for the record, that CBO projection was issued 2 weeks before the current Administration took office.)
This week, CBO issued its updated Economic and Budget Outlook for Fiscal Years 2010-2020. That document shows that government spending in fiscal year 2009 turned out to be 24.7 percent—roughly the same as what CBO had initially projected.
That’s how budgeting works! But what’s particularly weird is that Ed Lazaer was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors from 2006 up until Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. He knows perfectly well that the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Proposal was written by the Bush administration. You can even download the 2009 Economic Report of the President (PDF) and see that it has Lazaer’s signature on it and everything. It’s right there on page 11.
Josh Marshall: Something to Behold: "It's become something of a cliche: disabled, aged or relatively impoverished whites who literally could not survive without federal government assistance in many case nonetheless raging against Washington, 'hand outs' and government dependency.
It's there with a vengeance in this article in National Journal by Beth Reinhard on GOP plans to double down on race-based class warfare as the ticket to success in the 2014 elections. Kudos to Mark Karlin of Buzzflash for bringing the piece to my attention and specifically the passage I'm about to quote in full. Meet Terry Rupe ...
"I don't have any use for the federal government," Rupe said, even though his household's $13,000 yearly income comes exclusively from Washington. "It's a bunch of liars, crooks, and thieves, and they've never done anything for me. I'm not ungrateful, but I don't have much faith in this health care law. Do I think it's going to work? No. Do I think it's going to bankrupt the country? Yes."
The within-Democratic Party divisiveness of Larry Summers is explained as:
The Democratic Party--the left especially--chooses somebody without a substantial national political reputation, projects their hopes and their fantasies onto them as a blank canvas, enthusiastically supports their run for president, is then bitterly disappointed, and blames evil advisors who force Obama to listen to Jamie Dimon rather than Elizabeth Warren.
Summers has thus become a convenient bogeyman for Democrats disaffected with the president's performance--a "whipping boy", as Obama told Democratic members of congress--who don't want to admit that the president who is in office is not the idealized president they thought they were working for before the election.
But for Democrats, it is always thus: it was thus for WJC, JEC, and JFK. FDR was an exception, but before him both TWW and SGC were both half-term governors. You have to go back to JB before the Civil War before you find a Democratic election-winning president who had a serious national political reputation before running.
Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus was trying to hold an empire together when he directed Publius Sulpicius Quirinius and his assistant Coponius to conduct a census of Judaea and Syria so that they could start raising taxes from them. What were those taxes used for? To maintain the pax Romana, of course--the first prerequisite of a civilized society.
What, after all, have the Romans ever done for us?
John Scalzi: Tax Frenzies and How to Hose Them Down:
I really don’t know what you do about the “taxes are theft” crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires. Sorry, guys. I know you all thought you were going to be one of those paying a nickel for your cigarettes in Galt Gulch. That’ll be a fine last thought for you as the starving remnants of the society of takers closes in with their flensing tools.
Andrew McCarthy: Impeachment Lessons :: National Review Online:
The party that controls the House has full primacy over taxing and spending, every bit as much as the party that controls the executive branch has plenary control over prosecution decisions. Constitutional authorities are not contingent on how much, if any, control the party in question has over the rest of government. In theory, then, nothing in government can happen unless the House, with ultimate power over the purse, agrees to fund it. If a corrupt administration uses the IRS as a partisan weapon to audit and harass its detractors, the House can refuse to fund the IRS--or other parts of the executive branch--to quell executive overreach.
Nevertheless, Republicans incessantly tell supporters that, since they control only the House (just 'one-half of one-third of the government', as the tired refrain goes), they are impotent to rein in Obama’s excesses. And when conservatives in the House or Senate urge that Republicans use their command over the purse to stop Obama’s excesses--just as congressional Democrats have historically used the power of the purse to stop Republican presidents from prosecuting the Vietnam War and aiding the Nicaraguan Contras--Republican leadership turns on those conservatives with a ferocity rarely evident in their dealings with the president.
With Democrats energized by Obama’s lawbreaking, and Republicans paralyzed by the prospect of government shutdowns, there is no realistic prospect that Congress will starve Obama of funding. That leaves impeachment as the sole remaining constitutional safeguard....
Brian Francisco: Getting an earful on Obamacare:
A health insurance consultant said his own insurance premiums are climbing because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But a meat market owner said the health care law will cut his insurance rates by more than half. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, had asked for input on the Affordable Care Act during an open house Monday at his office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, and he got it. Nearly 20 people showed up to speak individually with him, and most wanted to talk about the law that is requiring most Americans to obtain medical coverage from private insurers.
The experiences and opinions of Matt Hatfield, the insurance consultant and seller, and Lee Albright, owner of the south-side meat market carrying his last name, were drastically different. Hatfield, a past president of the Northeast Indiana Association of Health Underwriters, told Stutzman his insurance premiums are increasing 50 percent and his medical provider network is shrinking because of changes in his policy prompted by President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. He predicted even greater sticker shock for insurance consumers starting next summer, when policies come up for renewal. “The sooner people get the bad news, especially in an election year, the better” for voters to express their displeasure in the 2014 congressional elections, Hatfield said. “I think Priority One is getting the current (law) tossed out,” he said. “But you also have to come back with, what are you proposing?”
Stutzman replied: “What are you replacing it with? That’s what everybody is asking right now.”
Albright doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed, which Stutzman and the Republican-controlled House have voted to do numerous times. Albright told his congressman that his monthly payment for family health coverage will drop from $3,800 to $1,700 by enrolling in a plan offered through the much-maligned law. Albright said most of his dozen employees also are enrolling in Affordable Care Act plans and will have coverage for the first time. “If the Republican Party thinks they’re going to kill Obamacare, you guys need to realize that those nine people that I add on, are they going to vote Republican ever again if you take their health care from them?”
Stutzman responded: “No, probably not.”...
James Hamilton, of Spencerville... had earlier said to Stutzman, “I’m really disappointed that the Republicans haven’t come forward with an alternative plan,” adding that he would “like to see something that is very different” from the Affordable Care Act.
Stutzman replied: “There’s several Republican plans that are competing with each other right now just internally. After the first of the year, we are going to try to sort through that.”
The Washington Post‘s Barton Gellman gifts us with a year-end Snowden wrap-up:
Six months after the first revelations appeared in The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Snowden agreed to reflect at length on the roots and repercussions of his choice. He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation, fueled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry.
Ann Coulter email@example.com: Thanks To Real "Fairness" You Can Save Your Retirement, Make Lots of Money, and Watch a Liberal's Head Explode--All at the Same Time:
Dear Fellow Red-Blooded American,
If you want to warm a liberal's heart, tell them you, as a conservative, support one of their most sacred doctrines--"fairness."
Then explain to them what fairness is not...
Fairness is NOT "redistributing" someone else's success...
Fairness is NOT changing the rules for those who are getting close to retirement...
And fairness is NOT doling out money to those who won't work.
No matter how they sugar-coat it, taking wealth from one who has earned it, to give it to another who hasn't, is not fair... it is stealing. (Oh, and speaking of wealth, keep reading and I'll introduce you to someone who can help you increase yours...)
What Real Fairness IS
Contrary to liberal mythology, fairness--REAL fairness--is succeeding through your own hard work and abilities under the same rules that apply to all. And that, as you know, is at the heart of a free-market economy.
Let me tell you about Dr. Mark Skousen, someone who understands these free-market principles perhaps better than anyone. He is one of the most influential free-market economists today.
My healthcare saga began in 2002.... No longer did I have a group plan selected by an employer. I had to shop for my own coverage. At first it was easy.... But each year the dreaded renewal letter arrived, and the premiums increased by leaps and bounds.... But the big shock was yet to come... renewal letter... $756 instead of $463--a staggering 63% increase.... I applied for a very-high-deductible plan that would keep my monthly payment in the $400 range. Given that I was still insured, the insurance folks got a copy of the blood test, which they proceeded to search line by line.... Out of two pages of data, there was a single thyroid reading was outside of “normal” range (side note: there’s nothing wrong with my thyroid; it was simply their excuse to make me pay that outrageous premium). They’d found their so-called preexisting condition, and denied me access to the new plan with the lower premium. With the help of my doctor, who wrote a letter on my behalf, I appealed.... "It wasn’t a government bureaucrat that came between me and my doctor; it was an insurance-company bureaucrat...."
Paul Krugman reminds me of Noah Smith in July 2012:
Back in 2009 [John] Cochrane predicted inflation, it hasn't happened yet, and DeLong made fun of Cochrane for that fact. Cochrane... [responds] The inflation prediction was (and is) a statement about risks, not a time-specific forecast.... This is a very fair retort. Predictions are not necessarily forecasts...
Naughty, naughty Noah!
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Phil Robertson's America:
I've yet to take in an episode of Duck Dynasty. I hear it's a fine show... a humorous and good-natured family of proud Americans. I try to be good natured, and I have been told that I can appreciate a good joke. I am also a proud American. With so much in common, it seems natural that I take some interest....
I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field .... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.
That is Robertson responding to a reporter's question about life in Louisiana, before the civil-rights movement. I am sure Robertson did see plenty of black people who were singing and happy. And I am also sure that very few black people approached Robertson to complain about "doggone white people."
Surely one element of Obama(snarl)care that's really upsetting Republicans is what health insurance could do to Mitch McConnell's political health. The problem for the minority leader is that "on the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable," according to the Washington Post:
Obamacare is doing very well in McConnell's home state of Kentucky. The Post has been following Courtney Lively, one of the officials signing up new applicants.
By the end of the May 2009 NYRB/PEN symposium on "The Crisis and How to Deal with It",, Niall Ferguson was interrupting Bill Bradley to say that he was "not to blame for AIG" and condemning Paul Krugman's calls for expansionary fiscal policy when monetary policy was tapped out at the zero lower bound as "the Soviet model".
None of that made it into the version of the symposium published in the New York Review of Books.
Here's the end of the symposium, with what the NYRB dropped between what was said and what it printed in bold: